Style: With his perpetually splayed fingers and inexplicable buzz cut, Kasich seems to be auditioning for Grandpa's bowling partner, not president. It doesn't help that he gets flustered by the debate's constant descent into entropy; asked to join in Thursday’s Grand Melee, he repeatedly resorted to folksy anecdote. He is the guy most likely to play the guy that loses to the guy playing the president in a TV movie.
Substance: Correctly pointed out Cruz is "very good at bullying," and indicated that people in the business of selling wedding cakes should probably just sell wedding cakes and not clutch their pearls over who's getting married. Continues to insist that mass deportation is a ludicrous fantasy. Is going to lose.
Grade: A child’s broken Snoopy fishing rod
Style: He totally was gonna ace this test. He did his homework. He put the answers on an index card and shoved it into his sock. And then he rushed his one-liners like a tween on a first date and sputtered at Trump's masterfully condescending responses. His hairline actually crept forward during the course of the evening, as if his brain were ashamed.
Substance: Rubio’s jabs at Trump had the stink of conference rooms to them, thunk up by aides who wouldn't actually have to say them. “If he hadn’t inherited 200 million dollars, you know where Donald Trump would be? Selling watches in Manhattan,” went one. He tried to corner Trump on Trump's plans to allow insurers to sell policies across state lines, but it devolved into, and I quote, "The lines! The lines! The lines!"
Grade: A broken ViewMaster
Style: A face so punchable it seems to come pre-punched! A face folding in on itself, with a voice both wheedling and noxious. He's telling you what you want to hear, and it was his fantastic idea to do that! Can't smile without looking like he's holding in a fart.
Substance: Tried harder than most actual journalists have this cycle to nail down various Trump hypocrisies, and was thwarted by the same oily dream-logic responses. Cruz: "Did you say you're in favor of socialized medicine?" Trump: "Well, I said I am not in favor of people dying in the streets." Also unlike most journalists, Cruz seemed disturbed by Trump's non-answers; he veered between scripted put-downs and foot-stamping stutters.
Grade: A candy bar you left on your car seat on the summer’s hottest day
Style: Torpid lunacy.
Substance: Incoherent quasi-aphorisms.
Grade: Disembodied hands crawling around in a fruit salad
Style: The world's most ludicrous strongman doesn't need to make sense, he just needs to be strong. His most potent weapon is his sincere belief that his dick is larger than everyone else's. During his opening statement, he said "Make America Great Again" was "my thing," and I'm guessing that's what he makes Melania call it.
Substance: ... I'm sorry, does that word still mean something?
Grade: A sentient hemorrhoid with access to the nuclear football